Under blizzard conditions, drilling for core samples at the site that will house a massive underground vault for the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme goes ahead 24 hours a day.
Workers from the Ballarat-based DeepCore drilling have so far taken the drill down to almost 1140m, with core samples sent to labs in Sydney for geotechnical analysis.
The drilling site about 5km north-west of Kiandra, known as Gooandra, is at an old DMR yard site - part of the care Snowy Hydro says it is showing to make sure it does not leave a big construction footprint in Kosciuszko National Park.
The Land toured the site and found five men beside the drilling platform, with trucks working non-stop nearby to keep access amidst the heavy snow conditions. A paramedic service is maintained 24 hours a day for the workers. DeepCore’s Andrew Stewart said his workers were used to tough conditions and had built shelters to stem the icy winds. “It’s all in a day’s work,” Mr Stewart said.
Snowy Hydro workers maintain an access road to the drilling site and have set up a communications centre at the top of Gooandra Hill. Drilling is also underway at the head of the planned project at Tantangara Dam.
The Federal Government has moved to fast track the Snowy 2.0 feasibility study to a December deadline. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has touted it as his government’s big commitment to infrastructure building and renewable energy. Eventually it will be a Snowy Hydro board decision mid-next year that will decide if the project goes ahead. For the moment, Snowy Hydro has to believe the project is a goer, and is starting to enter contract negotiations for the use of large boring machines, probably brought from Germany. There is no other site under consideration in the Snowy Scheme as the tunnel gradient from Tantangara to Talbingo is the steepest to allow generation of power expected to be 2000 megawatts. The power will be moved west with new transmission lines built by Transgrid, with the line heading out from Lobb’s Hole.
Up to 8 turbines could be housed in the large vault, about 1km underground. The new 10-12m diameter tunnel will fall slowly from Tantangara when it will hit a massive 700m straight drop down to the turbines. A surge tank will be built above the pressure shaft. An access tunnel will also be built to the underground station from about 1km to the northern side of the drilling site at Gooandra. Snowy Hydro says the scheme will have no effect on supplies of irrigation water. There would be minimal water loss through the pumped water system. There would be no need to build a new dam wall at Tantangara to act as small holding reservoir or to help with construction. More drilling sites are expected to be started in the new two months, some of which workers will have to be helicoptered in to.